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....and many other thoughts about facilitation, coaching ( teams & individuals) and learning


  • David

Should I be the ‘trainer’ or ‘facilitator’?

Updated: Mar 8, 2022

In my previous post on ‘Presenter vs Trainer vs Facilitator’, I discussed about the difference between these 3 roles. I want to zoom in more between Trainer and Facilitator. As mentioned in the last post, trainer should also perform the role of facilitator in the class sometimes, instead of just uni-directional delivery. But the next question is how much I should facilitate, or in other words, how much I should just lecture.

I believe trainers (including myself) should facilitate more than we are doing now, in general – This is driven from my own self-reflection and observation to the other trainers inside and outside my organisation. I learned a lot by observing the others. They have a lot of good practices which I can borrow from. More importantly, the observation prompted me to think, ‘What would I do if I were him / her?’. My most common response to this question is that it would be better to facilitate more. Facilitating makes them think and thus learn better. And seriously, I find that people are increasingly reluctant to sit down and be lectured.

But what hinders us to facilitate?

Focus on ‘give’ rather than ‘receive’ – Sometimes it is just because of wrong focus. Some trainers just aim to finish the slides / the facilitator guide. This is especially the case when the training material was not developed by the trainers themselves. So, they just follow. See also my previous post ‘Did I deliver?’ vs ‘Did they learn?’ .

Not enough time – On the surface of it, simple lecturing is the least time-consuming way to conduct a class. No time is needed to explain instruction, allow movement in the room.   And the process will be more under control since you are the only one who ‘act’ there. But like what is said in my above point, we finish the slides on time but…. do they really learn anything or thing as intended?

Not enough preparation – Good facilitation need lot of preparation. We need to set up things, prepare the material, think through whether the activity can convey the learning, prepare for contingency.  I must confess that unfortunately we all are given less and less time to prepare in the name of ‘efficiency’.  In-house trainers are more asked to do ‘projects’ rather than prepare themselves to excel in the classroom.

Anticipated resistance from the learners – People learn better by doing things rather than being told. This may be harder for the learners cos they have to take charge themselves. I did experience learners who suggested me to tell rather than ask lots of questions. It was very tempting to just then retreat to uni-directional lecturing. See my previous post ‘RAC – Generation Y’. In some sense, uni-directional lecturing is a comfort zone for both the trainer and the learners.

I do not have answer to all of the above challenges.   I will gather my thoughts and share with you later.   In the mean time, do share your thoughts here if any.

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